Novak Djokovic faces deportation following the cancellation of his visa in Australia, the latest twist in the pre-tournament saga of the No. 1 seed in the men’s draw for next week’s Australian Open.
The Serbian and World No. 1, Djokovic is appealing Friday’s ruling from immigration minister Alex Hawke. It’s the second time Australia has canceled the visa and the same judge, Anthony Kelly in the Federal Circuit Court, is expected to hear Djokovic’s latest appeal.
Kelly ruled in Djokovic’s favor earlier this week, setting the 34-year-old free from a quarantine hotel and clearing a path for him to play in the Grand Slam event set to begin Monday.
The Australian Open draw was delayed just before it began on Thursday, but after behind-the-scenes discussion, resumed not long after with Djokovic in the field and taking the top seed. The top half of the men’s draw is scheduled to open play Monday.
Whether Djokovic’s appeal is heard in that short of a window is uncertain.
Andy Murray reached the final of the Sydney Tennis Classic and will move to the Australian Open next week. He said post-match on Friday that he wouldn’t “start kicking Novak whilst he’s down,” but allowed the dramatic seesaw of events is not great for the sport.
“My feeling is that I would encourage people to get vaccinated,” Murray said. “I do feel like people should be able to make their own decision. But then, in a country like Australia, you know, you need to be vaccinated to come in, need to be vaccinated to compete here, and yeah, and obviously most of the players have chosen to do that.
“Pretty much all of the top 100 tennis players — I don’t know what it is on the women’s side, but I think they’ve got like 98% or something of the top 100 mens players have been vaccinated, which is positive. Ultimately people have to make their own choices. But there are also consequences sometimes for those decisions, as well.”
Djokovic is expected to be returned to immigration detention and meet the Australian Border Patrol that flagged his initial entry into the country on Jan. 5. Djokovic previously spent four nights at the quarantine hotel.
Australia has seen COVID-19 positive rates explode — 130,000 new cases were announced Friday — despite a vaccination rate over 90 percent. Prime minister Scott Morrison said.
Djokovic is in the country on a special medical exemption from tournament organizers and court documents last week revealed he’s not vaccinated.
Hawke said he made the latest decision based on “health and … on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”
Attorneys for Djokovic said in the appeal that the grounds for canceling his visa were “patently irrational.”
Djokovic is a nine-time winner of the Australian Open, including the past three. He holds 20 Grand Slam championships, tying him for the most all-time with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Nadal is entered in the 2022 tournament. Federer is continuing his rehabilitation from knee surgery.
–Field Level Media
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